In 2013, we worked together in Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC. The proceedings we were involved in raised unique IHL issues, which were discussed for the first time before the ICC and had generally been touched upon only in a limited manner by other international tribunals. During animated discussions with our colleagues, what struck us was the absence of a book that collected all major IHL notions in a single volume, accessible enough to quickly enable a variety of users to familiarise themselves with IHL issues in their daily work and sufficiently comprehensive to allow more demanding users to conduct further research.
The issue came up again in 2015 when we were located at the opposite ends of the world: The Hague, where Dražan worked, and Phnom Penh, where Niccolò was based. Niccolò proposed to revive the idea of an IHL Companion. We decided to give it a serious try and drafted a detailed book project that we submitted to Brill-Nijhoff, but not before a thorough review by two trusted and experienced colleagues and scholars, Gilbert Bitti and Mohamed El Zeidy of the ICC. Our gratitude goes out to them. To our surprise, Brill-Nijhoff accepted enthusiastically. In particular, Lindy Melman guided us through the process and supported us along the way.
We quickly set up an Editorial Committee, a sophisticated designation for a group of friends and colleagues, working in the IHL field in different capacities and passionate enough to contribute to this huge undertaking. In their capacity as Editors, their help in identifying experts willing to contribute to the Companion and their assistance in reviewing several important entries was priceless. For this reason, they deserve to be mentioned: Antonio Coco, Sandra Krähenmann, and Emma Irving, young but already experienced scholars and academics working at the Universities of Oxford, Geneva, and Leiden, respectively; Valentina Cadelo, also an experienced academic and scholar working at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights as well as a humanitarian field expert currently stationed in Northern Africa; and Andrew Carswell and Jonathan Somer, who possess impressive field experience in engaging both State armed forces and non-State actors to foster respect for IHL on the battlefield.
At a later stage, another colleague joined the team who would prove to be essential, Federica Pira, an Italian lawyer specialised in international criminal law and IHL. She first took up the position of Editorial Assistant and later of Editor, contributing immensely to managing the large amount of entries and essays, including different drafts, and all internal working documents that
In parallel, an Advisory Board was constituted, made up of very experienced colleagues who provided invaluable advice and support in terms of policy decisions with regard to the preparation of the book. They are: Guido Acquaviva, Deputy Registrar of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers; Gilbert Bitti, Senior Legal Adviser to the Pre-Trial Division of the ICC; Ivana Roagna, Senior Training Specialist at the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and Consultant in human rights and criminal justice; Ken Roberts, Senior Legal Officer to the Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and Judge on the Roster of International Judges of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers; and Sylvia Steiner, former Presiding Judge of Trial Chamber III of the ICC and Senior Researcher at the Getulio Vargas Foundation Law School. We are grateful to them.
None of this, of course, would have been possible without the assistance of the authors. We have been incredibly fortunate to benefit from the experience of those in senior positions and from the enthusiasm of those in earlier stages of their careers. All of them share, however, impressive legal skills driven by a great passion for IHL. We are truly indebted to them.
The main idea behind the IHL Companion was to create a book to facilitate the practical application of IHL. This deceptively straightforward notion was the impetus for developing the book and inspired us throughout the various stages of the project. We, therefore, hope that the book will appeal to a wide audience interested in or confronted with IHL, ranging from professionals in humanitarian assistance and protection in the field, legal officers and advisers at the national and international level, trainers, academics, scholars, and students. We hope to provide them with a tool to start up or perform a specific task, and with a source for reflection and further research. In other words, a point of departure and finish, as the case may be.
This Companion begins with a section consisting of seven essays that discuss, from different perspectives, the contemporary challenges to implementing IHL. We are sadly reminded of the need to discuss this topic every day in the media. The second section of the book comprises more than 260 entries covering the vast majority of IHL. All contributors have framed the entries with a view to explaining the essential legal parameters of a particular element of IHL, while keeping the need to discuss practical examples and, where relevant, historical considerations in mind. The starting point for the selection of the entries was, of course, the distinct notions arising from the Geneva Conventions, the
Dražan dedicates this book to his wife, son, and daughter. Niccolò dedicates this book to his late father, to the person he met on the roofless bus, as well as to his closest friends: Adeline, Amir, Ania, Gerardo, Harshan, Lawrence, Maddalena, Marcela, Matthew, Sun, and Tomas.
Dražan Djukić, Niccolò Pons